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I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active 10 year old (Robby) and an mischievous toddler (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Penal-Imposed Amputations

I am a worrier by nature. While I realize that this is not the most advantageous trait, I am fully aware of my tendencies. During the day I'm able to keep my thoughts in check, but at night when the house is quiet and still, my mind runs wild.

I worry about Robby, Scott, my family and friends, my mothering abilities, and work. When I have fully exhausted every "what if" scenario, I often begin to extend my fret circle to include people whom I have never met. Lately I have been investing an inordinate amount of time and have lost a great deal of much needed sleep mulling over the resurgence of amputation as punishment.

Several weeks ago an acquaintance on Facebook posted a video on my wall with a simple question, "Hey Peggy, what do you think of this?" Stupidly I clicked the link and watched. The video was grainy and it took several seconds before I could gain my bearings. The video showed a man, blindfolded by a black cloth, standing in the center of a town square. In front of the man was a table with a red object, which I wish I had identified in time. It wasn't until his hand was pushed under it did I realize that it was a table saw. By the time I realized what was occurring in the video, it was already too late. If I could go back in time and erase an image from my mind, this one would certainly top the list.

The horrific image of a penal-imposed amputation has haunted me. I wake up with my heart racing out of fear and anger. Since viewing the video I have stumbled upon numerous news articles detailing the reintroduction of amputation in the form of "justice." In countries where doctors are bravely refusing to remove the healthy limb, judges are being ordered to become proficient with amputation to carry out the sentence and the physicians are being jailed. Despite world-wide outcry (which is uncomfortably muffled from our citizens), the incidents of penal imposed amputation are rising. The fact that we are in 2013 and still this barbaric form of punishment is in use astounds me.

Again, I find myself trying to employ logic with something grossly illogical. Reading the accounts of young men (and some women) losing healthy appendages for minor shoplifting offenses, I feel utterly helpless. The world seems so skewed it frightens me.

The news accounts of the penal-imposed amputations reminded me of a young lady with albinism from Tanzania. In another illogical nightmare, individuals with albinism are hunted for their limbs in Tanzania. Witch Doctors in the remote village tout magical powers from the bones of an Albino. This brave young mother was pulled from her home in the middle of the night and both arms were hacked off with a machete. Miraculously, she survived the attack.

Several years ago my prosthetist Elliot learned of her plight and invited her to the United States. He donated both his time and the materials necessary to build her prosthetic arms. Local physical and occupational therapists donated countless hours teaching her how to function with the prosthetics. Similar to the recent amputations for "criminal" offenses, this young mom has haunted me. I often wondered what became of her after she returned to Tanzania.

Last week I learned that she moved from her village into a city so she will not longer be prey for the Witch Doctors. She still uses her prosthetics and has begun a small business sewing goods for export. She now employs nine other people who have varying degrees of disability. Simply put, she is happy and she is thriving!

Learning about her successes my heart began to lighten. I feel so overwhelmed thinking about all of the travesties in the world. I needed to be reminded, in a concrete way, that one person can indeed make a huge difference. Elliot didn't know her, but his talents and big heart changed not only her life but the lives of her children and her employees. I think I need to stop trying to change the world. I know I won't be able to stop the judicial imposed amputations, but maybe by writing about it I can help draw more attention to the issue.

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